On the same day he was named to the ASUN first team, Liberty designated hitter Brady Gulakowski powered the Flames past Florida Gulf Coast to begin pool play in the 2022 ASUN Baseball Tournament. Gulakowski blasted two home runs over the right field wall as his four RBIs were the difference in Liberty’s 4-3 win.
The Eagles, playing in their home ball park for the ASUN Tournament, jumped on top of the Flames first. They proved a lot of trouble for Liberty starting pitcher Dylan Cumming to lead off the game in the top of the first. The first two batters hit safely, including a two-run home run by FGCU’s second batter of the day, Ian Farrow. The Eagles would scrap together three hits in the inning, but Cumming would avoid any additional damage as he got out of the frame with the bases loaded. To lead off the top of the fourth, Logan Sartori would extend the lead to 3-0 with a solo home run.
That would be all the damage FGCU could muster off Cumming on the day, as the Liberty senior settled in. The Eagles wouldn’t muster another series threat until the sixth inning when runners reached first and second with one out. Liberty and Cumming would get out of that jam with an inning-ending double play.
FGCU would chase the Liberty starter after the first two batters reached in the seventh due to a walk and hit by pitch. Mason Fluharty would enter in relief. After popping a batter up for the first out of the inning, third baseman Cam Foster would cleanly field a ground ball, step on third, and deliver a strike across the diamond for a second straight inning-ending double play.
Liberty’s bats remained quiet until the bottom of the fourth when first baseman Logan Mathieu and third baseman Cam Foster reached on consecutive two-out singles. That brought Gulakowski to the plate where he would send an 0-1 delivery over the right field fence that everyone knew was gone as soon as he connected. His three-run shot tied the game. In the bottom of the seventh, with the score still knotted at three, Gulakowski led off the inning with a solo home run to give Liberty its first lead of the day at 4-3.
FGCU would attempt to muster something in the ninth off Fluharty to extend the game. The leadoff batter would reach on an infield single and would be moved to second with one out on a sacrifice bunt. Fluharty would stiffen there with a strikeout and recording the final out of the game with a ground out to short stop.
Fluharty got the win after he pitched the final three innings while allowing just one hit and striking out two. He threw just 21 pitches, so he could be used again this week during the tournament. Cumming pitched six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He walked five and struck out six.
Aaron Anderson was three for four at the plate with a double for the Flames. Other than him, it was batters six through eight in the lineup that got did all the work, combining for five of the eight hits and all of Liberty’s runs on the day. Logan Mathieu was one for four with a run scored, Cam Foster was two for four with a run scored, and Gulakowski finished the day two for three with two home runs, two runs scored, and four RBIs.
Liberty will be back in action at 11 a.m. on Wednesday to take on Kennesaw State on day two of three in pool play.
ASUN TOURNAMENT POOL STANDINGS
#3 Kennesaw State…..0-1
Top 3 advance to semifinals
#6 Eastern Kentucky…..1-0
#8 Jacksonville State…1-0
#7 North Florida…………0-1
Winner advances to semifinals
ASUN TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Tuesday, May 24
Pool A #1 Liberty 4, #4 FGCU 3
Pool A #2 Lipscomb 12, #3 Kennesaw State 10
Pool B #6 Eastern Kentucky 5, #7 North Florida 3 – JetBlue Park
Pool B #8 Jacksonville State 8, #5 Jacksonville 4
Wednesday, May 25
Pool A #1 Liberty (1-0) vs #3 Kennesaw State (0-1), 11 a.m.
Pool A #2 Lipscomb (1-0) vs #4 FGCU (0-1), 3 p.m.
Pool B #6 Eastern Kentucky (1-0) vs #8 Jacksonville State (1-0), 12:30 p.m. – JetBlue Park
Pool B #5 Jacksonville (0-1) vs #7 North Florida (0-1), 3:30 p.m. – JetBlue Park
Thursday, May 26
Pool A #1 Liberty vs #2 Lipscomb, 11 a.m.
Pool A #3 Kennesaw State vs #4 FGCU, 3 p.m.
Pool B #7 North Florida vs #8 Jacksonville State (if necessary), 11 a.m. – JetBlue Park
Pool B #5 Jacksonville vs #6 Eastern Kentucky (if necessary), 7 p.m.
Friday, May 27
Pool A Winner vs Pool B Winner, 11 a.m.
Pool A runner-up vs Pool A third place, 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 28
Two semifinal winners will meet
*all games will be played at Swanson Stadium unless otherwise noted